thesis-driven analysis of some thematic or formal issue in The Female American

Any analysis is a discussion of how various parts contribute to something significant about the whole. In Literary Analysis, you begin your paper with a statement about a significant theme, pattern, or problem in the text (your thesis); you then support that statement by identifying and explaining the parts of the text that contribute to the pattern. Providing direct evidence from the text in the form of direct quotes and discussions of specific scenes is key to successful analysis. Any claims you make must be supported by evidence directly from the text itself.

Most of our discussions of the novel have been focused around how it is part of the larger cultural and intellectual issues of the Enlightenment; specifically we have talked a lot about how Rationality is central to how the narrator tells her story. We have also talked about how during this era, the definition of Rationality relied on a series of presumed opposites like Reason/Emotion, Christian/Pagan, Civilized/Savage, etc.

1. Uncas has a complicated relationship the Natives on the island and her own Native heritage. If you are interested in the way the novel works out the relationship between Europe and the people of the New World, you might consider

• How her self-perception allows her to control the Natives on the island.

• How the depiction of the Natives works to support her self-perception.

• How she talks about her own Native background, or how it may or may not influence her.

• How her depictions of the Natives are part of a larger European conception of how the world works.

2. We discussed the narrator’s focus on being rational, which is often connected to her religious beliefs. For this issue you might consider

• How religion works as a source of self-control, and why this is important.

• How she reconciles religion and science/reason.

• How religion provides an outlet for emotion or irrationality.

3. The narrator doesn’t seem to talk about gender very often, but it is clearly an important part of the novel. For this topic, you might consider

• How she talks about being a woman, and why it matters to the ways she talks about her own skills, mental capacities, or morality.

• How the novel simultaneously gives us a very unusual and powerful woman as a character, but still upholds certain binary assumptions about gender.

• How the novel rejects assumptions about gender in some ways.

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